“Polyphenols and carotenoids are your skin and blood vessels’ best friends and this simple dish is packed with these wonderful plant nutrients. Plus it is ideal as a refreshing lunch on a hot summer day”, says LipoTherapeia’s nutritionist and natural skincare expert Georgios Tzenichristos, who suggests ‘Gazpacho, black rice and basil’ as the perfect lunchtime dish this summer.
Gazpacho is a cool summer salad-soup originating in Spain, while black rice is a hybrid Italian/Thai rice originating in Italy.
The combination brings together the refreshing fragrant goodness of tomatoes, cucumbers and red bell peppers, the rich-tasting aromatic complex carbs of black rice and the sweet-scented essential oils of basil.
“Nutritionally speaking, this meal brings on the table carotenoids from tomatoes and polyphenols from black rice – the two most important classes of plant nutrients for blood vessels, skin wellness and overall good health. Plus lots of fibre and the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of basil.
“These are the kind of meals I recommend to my clients for healthy, firm, smooth skin on the legs or everywhere else on the body: rich in plant chemicals/fibre, low in glycaemic index and moderate in calories.”, Georgios says.
Coming from Greece Georgios appreciates the Mediterranean diet, especially refreshing summer meals on a hot day. “Although not Greek, this mix of Spanish and Italian goodness, ticks all the boxes for me when it comes to enjoying a fresh summer meal or a healthy food to suggest to my clients.”
With a glycaemic index of 42 (as opposed to 89 for white rice and 50 for brown rice) and with lots of fibre and proanthocyanidins, black rice is the king of carbs – nutritionally speaking.
Tomatoes and red peppers in gazpacho are packed with the carotenoid lycopene; extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is bursting with the polyphenols hydroxytyrosol, oleuropein and oleocanthal (predictably Georgios prefers the Greek Koroneiki variety, which is known for its high antioxidant content); and garlic in the recipe enhances the release of nitric oxide that helps keep arteries healthy.
Taste-wise, the sweetness of ripe tomatoes and red peppers mixes with the herbal notes of the EVOO and the gentle acidity of red wine vinegar, while black rice adds a grounding, earthy note to the volatile aromas of the herbs and vegetables.
Enjoy with iced green tea, for more antioxidant goodness (courtesy of the polyphenol EGCG in green tea). Or with a chilled glass of Provence rosé, to add a touch of France to the mix.
This multi-coloured pot of cool soup is perfect to impress your guests before the garden party’s main course – and with very little effort too: Gazpacho is ready in no time, while black rice only takes 40′ to boil.
You can always accompany with beans on the side as a source of protein (or grilled sardines / tuna / salmon for protein and omega-3 goodness for non-vegans).
Georgios is the director of the Lipotherapeia, the only clinic in London specialising in cellulite and skin tightening, and the formulator of the luxurious Celluence® Legs creams for leg skin wellness and cellulite, based on – what else? – polyphenols.